The Undergraduate Student Government passed its first resolution of the semester Tuesday when senators unanimously voted to officially recognize Trojan Council, a coalition of USC’s four primary governing bodies — USG, Graduate Student Government, Academic Senate and Staff Assembly. Its first official event, an open University forum, will be held by the end of the semester, according to USG President Trenton Stone.
Stone said the presidents of each body were already meeting informally for the last two years, even organizing their own University forum last spring, which was open to students, faculty and staff members. He said he hopes that making the Council official will solidify its influence on campus as a centralized and collaborative advisory body.
“The hope is to encourage this idea that there’s now an officially endorsed governing collaborative group … to work together on shared issues, as well as plan this University forum,” Stone said.
Stone said the other three governing bodies, which meet less frequently than USG, are currently working on their own resolutions to officially recognize Trojan Council.
By officially recognizing the coalition, Stone said he hopes that administrators will be “more expected” to attend the planned forums. This semester, the forum will be attended by University President Carol Folt, incoming Provost Charles Zukoski and the inaugural Vice President for Human Resources Felicia Washington. All three administrators are new to their positions this year as part of a sweeping turnover of the University administration.
Concerned Faculty of USC, a group formed last year in the wake of the scandal involving former campus gynecologist George Tyndall, has previously criticized the Academic Senate for not accurately representing faculty interests.
“They have the most arcane election procedures,” Ariela Gross, the chair of Concerned Faculty, told the Daily Trojan in March. “So they have an executive board that does not represent their constituents.”
Stone said that while there is not currently a plan to include Concerned Faculty as an official part of the Council, he hopes that officially recognizing the coalition will address concerns across campus, including those of Concerned Faculty.
“I think that it would be great for the Concerned Faculty group to find ways to work more closely with the Academic Senate,” Stone said. “We all have different needs, but at the end of the day a lot of the needs overcross.”
Stone believes Trojan Council is a step toward increasing transparency on campus and ensuring student representation at important discussions. Tuesday’s resolution comes in the wake of multiple developments in USC’s myriad scandals in the last few weeks. These include a pair of lawsuits between the University and two USC Village restaurants, revelations in the lawsuits against former campus men’s health doctor Dennis Kelly and court documents filed Tuesday that reveal new information about how donations allegedly affect admission to the University.
Stone said in the past, the four governing bodies had typically met with administrators separately, even when addressing the same or similar topics. He said Trojan Council is already planning several presentations for this semester, in which administrators will speak to the coalition about select topics.
“So now it’s not each of us going separately to their office,” Stone said. “But rather, they come in for 15 minutes, present to us and then we discuss it is a group. So I think it’s just a more effective way of working together on these common issues.”